Deanio X: Sir Denis Mahon Award 2021

Sept. 22, 2021

Deanio X (Drawing Year 2019) is the recipient of the Sir Denis Mahon Award 2021. Presented to one outgoing Drawing Year student annually, the award allows them to continue their practice, providing them with funding for a studio space as well as a solo exhibition in the School's Shoreditch gallery at the end of the year.

Photochrome, Charcoal, ink and water on paper, 55.5x75cm .jpg

Photochrome, charcoal, ink and water on paper, 55.5 x 75 cm

Originally due to open in April 2021, delayed due to the restrictions of the pandemic, Deanio X's solo exhibition, Tempered Carbon, opens in the Royal Drawing School's new Gallery Studios on 14th October.

The exhibition 'is a story of perseverance in the face of hostile psychological, physical and social environments' says Deanio X. 'The work centres around a child, or children, who find themselves thrown from the impossible security of the womb, into a world of unprecedented dangers. They must find a way to overcome this new chaos by mastering themselves and their immediate environment.' 


Carbon Spectre IV, acrylic, chalk, charcoal, graphite, ink and water on wood, 183 x 183 cm

Over 40 works will be on display, spanning his time from the end of The Drawing Year in 2019 to spring 2021. 'I began by working into some of the pieces I was making towards the end of the Drawing Year. I started this piece (Magpie, below) on the course, took it home and carried on working on it. I work back and forth between pieces, and the work isn’t finished until it has to be. The wings that I added emerged from some of the reading I’ve been doing: biology, evolution and thinking about metamorphosis'


Magpie, acrylic, chalk, charcoal, graphite, ink and water on canvas, 100 x 100 cm 

MicrosoftTeams-image (16).png

'In my head there’s a story that I’m trying to resolve, like a graphic novel. Each painting is a part of that bigger story. I start with the imagery, trying to build a bridge between each artwork. You make progress on one, so you go back to another painting you are also working on, they build a relationship, what you learn from one can feed back into the other. I think back to all the life drawing we did on The Drawing Year. Over the last year I had a lot of fun seeing if I could depict bodies in movement.'


Petri, acrylic, charcoal, ink, water on aluminium, 100 x 100cm 

The materials and techniques that Deanio X has used have developed over the last year; from working primarily on paper to experimenting with other surfaces - 'It all started in lockdown. One of my lockdown projects was to fix my bike. I got really obsessed, stripped all the paint off it. My bike now is pure silver. I loved the metal texture. Using it as surface for one of my paintings wasn’t something I’d considered before.'

Prototype Liquid Carbon., Printed aluminium, 74.5x74.5cm .jpg

Prototype: Liquid Carbon, printed aluminium, 74.5x74.5cm

'I had been thinking about how to incorporate light into the artwork without creating an artificial equivalent and I think aluminium has given me a new way to do that. The appearance of the surface changes depending on where the light source is coming from. If they’re outside they appear one way, if you place it on a wall without direct sunlight they look different again. If the light is hitting it directly, there’s subtle purple reflections.'

IMG_20210911_140255 sml.jpg

Deanio X with Dilip Sur in his South London studio

Dilip Sur, artist and tutor at the Royal Drawing School, was a mentor to Deanio X's throughout The Drawing Year. He says of the exhibition:

'Every work of art is a beginning. Each piece of work is embryonic. The making of art is nothing but autobiographical; I see this as being especially true in Deanio X's work. This is what I sensed in his work from when I first met him and I see it even more now. He has a literary background and he is very aware of history and more and more he is becoming 'Deanio X'. That 'X' is evolving and will come in more.

As artists, we raise questions, we do not solve. It is not our duty to solve, or tell people what to do. Art, poetry and music, are reactions to the reality of what we are passing through - that will be our honest statement, or honest expression of ourselves. What really touches our soul, so that it can touch the soul of others.'

Visit Tempered Carbon from 14 - 29 October 2021

Open Monday-Friday 8.30am-9pm & Saturdays 9am-4pm

Private view: Thursday 14 October, 5 -8.30pm

Royal Drawing School, 19-22 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch EC2A 3S

Find out more about The Drawing Year